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Iran big winner in Iraq so far

March 8, 2007 at 10:04 PM

BAGHDAD, March 8 (UPI) -- Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis agree on one thing -- the big winner so far in the bitter sectarian strife in their country is Iran.

"America handed Iraq to Iran on a golden plate," Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni politician, told the Chicago Tribune. "Everything Iran fought for in the Iran-Iraq war, America gave to it when it invaded."

Vali Nasr, an Iranian-born scholar who teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., agrees.

"For Iran, the war in Iraq turned out to be a strategic windfall," he wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs.

In 2001, the Shiite government in Iran was flanked by hostile Sunni regimes -- Saddam Hussein on the west and the Taliban in Afghanistan to the east. The United States removed both.

Now, many Shiite leaders in the Iraqi government are men who spent years as refugees in Iran and Iranian arms are turning up across the border.

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